Helicopter collision story all wrong

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Last week, two Phoenix TV news helicopters collided during a frenzy to capture a car chase and carjacking on tape for the news cast that day.

The crash resulted in four helicopter crew members losing their lives. The suspect was arrested and charged with vehicle theft and eluding – and now, there’s word that police want to charge him with the helicopter “journalists’” deaths as well.

From the beginning, this story is all wrong.

First of all, was the story that important?

Each day across the country there are police chases, wrecks and carjackings. Criminal’s carjack, and police chase them. I don’t think these things need to be publicized on live TV.

What if the driver had hit and killed a pedestrian? Sure, that might seem to be good for TV ratings, but horribly insensitive to a victim’s family. In print journalism, we strive to make ethical decisions about what photos to print with out sacrificing details of a story that should be told. But this story didn’t need to be told.

Next time you see a police chase on cable news, ask yourself whether you’d like to see a loved one’s parting moments caught on tape to become part of a you-saw-it-here-first news cast. Or, how would you like helicopters to come crashing through your roof after failed attempts to capture a car-chase story on film?

And, police want to charge the suspect for the “journalists’” deaths? C’mon, that’s just ridiculous. When innocent passersby are caught in the crossfire or public servants, like police officers, are injure or injured doing their jobs, charges against a suspect are warranted.

But, those journalists were not forced to go up and cover that story. Unfortunately, they paid quite a price for doing so. Was it worth it?

3 Responses to Helicopter collision story all wrong

  1. I have always hated the fact that the news makes any illegal activity – a public event.

    The answer is no, this was not important and charging the idiot driver with their deaths is nothing more the an attempt to justify the senseless order by the news organization to send the news crew up to cover the story.

    Personally I am tired of seeing criminals speed through the streets waving at the news crews filming them. Don’t the news get the message? The criminal is showboating for the camera. Turn the camera off and perhaps they can save lives. Perhaps their own.

    Gary
    July 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

  2. Excellent points. Mainstream media with the “if it bleeds it leads” syndrom are doing a disservice to the general public and endangering others.

    Not to mention the possibility of copycat bad guys that just want to make ther news.

    Lon Matejczyk
    July 30, 2007 at 1:19 pm

  3. Oddly enough, there’s actually some precedent for holding car chase criminals liable for helicopter crashes.

    I think it’s a weak case.

    Anonymous
    July 31, 2007 at 8:15 pm